My topic for this week is “work smarter, not harder.”  Unfortunately, advice in this category is advice I don’t often listen to.  We’ve all heard the suggestion to do the most difficult tasks first thing in the morning, or to only check your email four times a day.  I am that person with her iPhone attached to her hand refreshing the email inbox about every 30 seconds.  I am also the person who will routinely put off substantive tasks until the stress of having the item incomplete on my to-do list just becomes too much… and the person who decides my most productive hours (usually before 9:00 a.m.) are best spent updating my Facebook profile picture and not getting work done.

With all of this said, I’ve created a list of tips for efficiency which even I can follow. This post is as much for me as it is for you.  A few of them are based on the advice of my friend (queen of workplace efficiency, and professional coach), Sarah From. Read on and let me know if you incorporate any into your life.

Brains.

The first is my very favorite tip. Productivity guru David Allen (of Getting Things Done fame) says, “Your brain is for having ideas, not holding them.” I love this idea. Speaking as someone who had a brain FILLED with ideas and lists and concerns and music lyrics, this tip has been very helpful for me. I actually spent about three hours the other day consolidating all of my lists into ONE BIG LIST (currently housed on Google Docs). It has a series of tabs that reflect the big categories in my brain. And if I think long and hard about it, it is a pretty close representation of what I bet the inside of my brain actually looks like.

Welcome series.

The next tip is all about automation. Set up a series of automated emails (a Welcome Series, if you will) to greet new members of your housefile after they join. This is almost one of those “set it and forget it” situations. The rule of thumb is that the first welcome email does just that, welcomes your new constituent to your housefile. The second is as ask — maybe an evergreen advocacy ask or something tied in with sharing information about your organization on social media. And the last is the money ask! New constituents are likely to make a financial gift to your organization soon after joining your housefile. Welcome Series — tadah!

Verbiage.

My next idea is straight from the aforementioned Sarah From. Ms. From suggests starting every item on your action list with a verb and to make every action as specific as possible. So rather than just writing “Welcome Series,” consider writing “research and set-up welcome series.” Another example: don’t write “e-mail Emily,” write “send Emily Goodstein a fan mail e-mail.”

Supportive.

This one seems silly, but I think it is an important reminder. We’re here to help. In many, many ways, but I am specifically talking about communicating with Support. I interact with clients on a regular basis who put off calling Support when they need help — and folks end up spending so much time struggling with an issue that we could be helping you with. So, let’s break down the Support calling barrier. Give ’em a ring with questions big and small and save yourself the time and frustration when you hit a snag. Say it with me: Support is our friend.

What work smarter techniques to you use and love? Use the comments section of this post to tell us.

I’m off to update my Facebook photo…

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